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The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home Chapter 2: Sustenance, Clothing, and Shelter

Chassidut explains that there are three basic needs of every human being which correspond to the three basic lights that both surround and permeate every human being. The three levels are called mazon, levush, bayit–sustenance, clothing and shelter. A person requires all of these three in order to live properly. Our Sages say (see Yevamot 63a, Tosafot s.v. "she'ein" and Vayikra Rabah 22:1), "A man who has no home is not a man." The fact that a man lives in a home is one of the essential definitions of his being.

Everything has a mitzvah ("commandment") which corresponds to it. The mitzvah of the home is the mezuzah. In addition to filling one?s home with holy books, the specific mitzvah which sanctifies the home is the mitzvah of mezuzah. The specific mitzvah that corresponds to clothing, for a male, is tzitzit ("ritual fringes"). The mitzvah of kashrut, ritual hand washing, and blessings relate to eating.

The house surrounds one from afar, without any physical contact with the walls. Thus the home is called the makeef harachok, that level of Divinity or consciousness that surrounds one from afar. It is also called shomer, "guard." The purpose of a home is a protective shield. The home prevents all undesirable foreign influences from penetrating within.

The clothing, which is adjacent to the body is called the makeef hakarov, a proximate level of Divinity. Clothing also affords protection from the elements. The fact that clothing is a makeef is represented by the fact that every aspect of reality has an outer and an inner side. One of the two is always more beautiful than the other. Regarding clothing, the more beautiful side is the outside. It has esthetic value. The seams are hidden inside. The clothing picks up energy or light from the outside. It also dresses the external.

Food is the third level. The process of eating ia a process of clarification. The good is extracted from the waste and integrated into the system. This is called or pnimi,"inner light." The digested food becomes blood, which is the medium through which ruach hachayim, the "spirit of life" passes. It gives life force. It has pulse.

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